ST 2964 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 2964 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2964 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

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A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where we are back to the high 20s – middle 30s but not suffering wildfires like British Columbia, Alberta, and Northern Ontario.

Virgilius, still at full trickiness, a lower than usual anagram count, one lurker, one homophone, and one clue that is very similar to one in yesterday’s prize puzzle.

Stand out favourite – 9d (but not in the hints), with 2d trailing in second place.

Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in red at the bottom of the hints!

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, a number of the more difficult clues have been selected and hints provided for them.

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow:


8a Endlessly arid zone as part of US (7)
The concatenation of three words in the clue after their last letters have been removed (endlessly).

12a Philosopher inserting line in page, odd selection for author (5)
The single letter for page and the odd letters of author (odd selection for) containing (inserting) the single letter for line.

13a Central character in broadcast, as heard on radio (5)
The phonetic form (as heard on radio) of the central character of broadcast.

17a Be encouraging about time in office, short for politician (7,8)
Lego time – A single word for be encouraging containing a single word for time in (royal) office and a synonym of short.

(A month or so ago, the illustration might have been much more recognisable.)

19a Said to include section of round-the-world trip (7)
A synonym of said containing (to include) a single word for section of.

26a Cronies, having performed turn, remain for comedy act (9)
A synonym of cronies reversed (having performed turn) followed by a synonym of remain.

28a Alternative to case contributing to foolish old allegations (7)
The lurker (contributing to) found in the last three words of the clue.


1d Song and dance followed by commercial (6)
A formal dance event followed by an abbreviated synonym for commercial.

2d Remarkable as fish may be, unlike whales or dolphins (8)
The answer is a synonym of the definition that can apply (may be) to fish but not to whales or dolphins.

6d Part of hand that has slippery skin (6)
The fruit that has the collective noun of hand.

7d Part-time judge has request again about start of case (8)
A term that means to request again containing (about) the first letter (start of) Case.

15d Unfriendly when embracing cute person in immature way (10)
A synonym for unfriendly containing (when embracing) a single word for cute (female) person.

17d Dancing skill possibly OK for covering tango requirement (8)
An anagram (possibly) of OK FOR containing (covering) a (numerical) requirement to be able to tango.

18d After short voyage North with one parent, land in Caribbean (8)
A synonym of voyage with the last letter removed (short), the single letter for North, the letter that is used for one, and a parent.

23d German musical family‘s group losing heart (4)
A synonym of group with the middle letter (heart) removed (losing).

25d Nelson, for example, in part of ship (4)
A double definition – the first might have been described by Kent Walton.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

Mark Knopfler, OBE is 69 today. This is Going Home from his solo sound track album for the film Local Hero part of a live concert A Night In London recorded at the BBC in April 1996:

For the complete concert, play this:



56 comments on “ST 2964 (Hints)

  1. Another little gem .

    17D my favourite but only appreciated after entering the answer then seeing the skilful wording .

    Still drying out from the bowling match yesterday , not a complaint really as the grass is green again . Tom Jones must be pleased .

    Thanks to everyone . PS Just realised 13a on iPad version different from the hint .

  2. This didn’t take too long to fill the grid but I had to spend some time post-solve to parse a few clues.

    Thanks to Senf and Virgilius 2*/4.5*

  3. Fairly straightforward this morning bar a couple of holdouts in the NW and SW corners. Some excellent and typically Virgilian clues, my favourite of many being 17a, a very funny and topical anagram. A hugely enjoyable crossword.

    Thanks to Mr Greer and Senf.

    1. I have just noticed that the hint for 17a is different from the iPad version, which is funny: I’m interfering so badly as member of government.

      1. The iPad version of 13a is; “Initially Delphi’s extended mouthpiece”. An improvement on the clue mentioned by Senf.

      2. I thought that the iPad version of 17a was a brilliant clue which was probably written for the previous incumbent of the position.
        Thanks to Mr V and Senf as usual

      3. My ‘source’ is the DT puzzle web site and I have no ‘visibility’ of the dead tree or any other electronic versions. As we know, there are often late edits to the electronic versions.

  4. The English equines were likely as untroubled as the Canadian ones, completed before the 2nd caffeine injection.
    Is Kent Walton as well known in Canada?
    17d and 22d both nicely constructed that gave a nice doh moment.
    I wonder if our feline correspondent has stats on virtually identical clues coming up in consecutive prize crosswords.
    A dab of hot Senf always goes well on a Virgilius concoction. Thanks to both.

    1. Only the latter 38% of my life span has been spent in Canada (and the USA) so I have memories of 4:00pm on a Saturday afternoon.

      1. Ah so Kendo Nagasaki, the Jim Breaks special and Big Daddy (as opposed to Big Dave) are all on the Senf radar.

          1. I particularly liked George Kidd – more brain than brawn but a very, very good wrestler.

          2. In the late 70s, I installed a new wooden kitchen floor for Giant Haystacks in his Salford house. I often wonder if it ever collapsed under his weight…

    2. I found 27 weekends where the Saturday and Sunday puzzles include the same answer. In every one of those the clues are quite different, so this weekend is the first I’m aware of where the clues for the repeated answer are virtually identical.

  5. I surprised myself by completing this after a decidedly rocky start. 17a was slow to dawn but think I might have been quicker with the online clue. Liked 2d however 9d was Fav but perhaps one has to be of a certain age to remember it?! 14a didn’t take long to reappear. Altogether that was an enjoyable solve. Thank you Virgilius and Senf.

  6. 4* / 5*. To borrow some vocabulary from Senf I set off at a gallop with this one and was fooled into thinking it was going to be easy. SIlly me. In the end it put a real fight and proved to be a very rewarding and enjoyable challenge.

    It’s a good job we’ve got an expression like déjà vu in English. We seem to need it a lot on this blog.

    I’ve got ticks all over my page as is usual for a Sunday, with double ticks next to: 17a, 2d, 6d, 17d & 20d.

    Many thanks to the consistently brilliant Virgilius and to Senf.

    P.S. Happy Birthday to Mark Knopfler – what a genius as a musician and song writer.

  7. Just got 13a, confused as to why the ‘on the radio’ means xxxxxxxxxx, is this a convention????

      1. Oops, sorry, I thought it would be ok as it’s used in the hint.
        Just seen the alternative clue, much better.

  8. Just finished dancing round the kitchen to the sounds of ‘Walk of Life’ – excellent stuff, as was today’s puzzle.

    Top three here were 2,6,9 & 17d.

    Many thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the blog.

  9. Are there different clues for IPad as opposed to printed form? 13a today was my difficult one so hoped Dave could give me a nudge. I couldn’t understand why his clue was totally different from the one I can see. You could say that Dave’s clue was a big “13a” from mine!!

    1. From time to time, people do comment about how the I-Pad version of a clue is different to the Telegraph Puzzles site/newspaper version – I’m wondering if it has something to do with the recent change of 17a

      Incidentally, Senf gives the hints on a Sunday not Big Dave

      1. Hi Sue Being a virgin to this site, I was not aware that there can be two versions of the same crossword, perhaps clue length in the paper versuion doesn’t fit well on the e copy but 13a didn’t look too different., Also thanks for the nudge on Senf as opposed to Dave, again due to my not being here before. Not being a blogger I see there is some etiquette to learn, hope I’m not breaking any rules by replying in this way.

        1. Hello Alan

          No, you’re not breaking any rules at all, but a read through the blog FAQ’s and Comment Etiquette from the menu at the top will set you on the right track. There are also other pages of interest that BD has prepared which are well worth a read.

  10. Your clue to 13a is “Central character in broadcast, as heard on radio”. In my Kindle edition the clue is “Initially Delphi’s extended mouthpiece”
    I worked it out as a mouthpiece for a river, but your clue results in the same answer.


    1. You’ve used your full name instead of the alias you used back in March

      If you’d read the other comments, you’d have seen that you weren’t the first to comment on the clue differences

  11. Unlike our blogger and RD, I found this one at the less tricky end of the Virgilius spectrum, only the SE corner required a little more teasing out. As enjoyable as always, of course.

    Top clues for me were 17a, 17d and 25d.

    Many thanks to Mr Greer and Senf.

  12. I enjoyed this and sailed through it before church this morning but was stuck on 17a and down. Just put them in, thanks to hints! Loved 9d perhaps I am anticipating this evenings activities. 6d made me laugh. Am wearing a cardigan – hilarious when you consider this time last week I was almost fainting with the heat.

  13. 14a seems to be on the crossword equivalent of speed dial!!
    Even Mrs Tub enjoyed chipping in with a couple of answers, and as a rule she thinks anything I like (crosswords/cricket/beer) is ‘stupid’ so there can be no higher praise for today’s puzzle. In my humble opinion it was as good as it always is.
    With thanks to the setter, Senf for the help with 6d, and all who contribute to this blog, I do enjoy reading the comments.

  14. A brilliant Sunday offering with a real smile clue in 9d and my personal fav 17d, it takes this to Tango, brilliant!
    Perhaps on the easier side of a Sunday puzzle but really great.
    Many thx to the setter for this one.

  15. Loved this as usual. Can’t for the life of me parse 9d. Won’t say am I being thick because you’ll all reply yes!

    Thanks to the master V and Senf.

  16. Another Sunday, another cracking puzzle from Virgilius.

    Excellent – thank you Mr Greer and M. Moutarde

  17. Hurrah! I can comment again after the upgrade!

    Managed to complete this one with a lot of head scratching, but delighted, as I rarely can complete a Virgilus puzzle alone and unaided. So, a double hurrah day for me.

    Needed Senf’s help with parsing a few of them.

    Am I alone in being completely befuddled by the alternative clue for 13a? I have the dead tree version and am quite certain that I would have not solved the clue with Delphi in it.

    Thanks to Virgilus and to Senf.

    1. No. I “solved” the iPad version and had my answer confirmed by Senf’s hint. I too have to confess that I’m still confused by the Delphi clue 🤔

      1. It appears to me that the Delphi clue is wrong and was changed as it seems to omit reference to a contractual acronym relating to the second part of the correct answer (which can be got from the substitute clue ).

      2. I’d parse it with ‘extended’ interpreted as the opposite of shortened or abbreviated, so a short form of the answer is the initial letter of Delphi. Richard Morris at comment #11 has explained the definition part.

  18. Excellent puzzle. My favourites were 6,9&20d with the latter being the winner. 14a was the easiest because it echoed yesterday’s puzzle – is this just chance? Thanks to all.

  19. Superb puzzle again from Mr. Greer. I thought it was going to be easy peasy when I solved 1a on looking at it, but, no, it took a lot of thought but huge entertainment.
    There was so much to like, but 9d was really outstanding, 2d was right up there as well. I really could have chosen any clue, they’re all so good.
    Thanks to Virgilius and to Senf for the fun.

  20. Can’t add much to what’s already been said above. An enjoyable solve, with 17d getting favourite honours today. Thanks to Virgilius and Senf.

  21. It might be the glorious 12th today, but Virgilius beat me yet again. Just can’t seem to crack the south west corner. If you’re holding off on posting because you also did not find this easy, don’t fret, you’re not alone. I thought I was off and running in the beginning, with lots quickly falling into place, 26a being my favourite. Enjoyable nonetheless.

  22. Late in the day to comment, helping eldest son move to sunny Streatham.
    Everything has been said about this excellent puzzle.
    Thanks Virgilius and Senf.

  23. Given a choice between the two 17a clues … I much prefer the iPad one.

    The crossword editor seems less sure which one is best.

  24. I started off quickly with this one, then ground to a snail’s pace. I persevered, and glad I did. Many thanks Virgilius and Senf. Favourites were 6d, 9d and 20d.Glad to find others noticed that the 14a clue was similar to a clue yesterday. I’m not going mad after all.

    1. Hi I’ve attempted the 7 daily Telegraph crosswords for probably 30 years now but have never come across this or any other blog about the crosswords. Weird. I have one question. Mention is made of Virgilius, is this the compliler as I can’t recall seeing a compiler’s name quoted against any crossword? I believe the Times does this but thought the Telegraph didn’t do so. Am I mistaken and if so where can one find the compiler’s name for each crossword. Excuse my lack of knowledge. It will improve I am sure now I am receiving blogs from the site.

      1. This is a Frequently Asked Question so you’ll find the answer under the FAQ tab at the top of the page (No 28)

        1. Thanks for the pointer, now clear. Sorry to have wasted your time, I’ll read the FAQs before posting here again.

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